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Hong Kong Police Plan to Arrest Protest Leaders

Hong Kong Police Plan to Arrest Protest Leaders
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Hong Kong Police Plan to Arrest Protest Leaders

Hong Kong Police Plan to Arrest Protest Leaders
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Nine Hong Kong activists were told on Monday that they are to be arrested for their involvement in the student protests of 2014.

The protests became known as the Umbrella Movement. Tens of thousands of student protesters filled Hong Kong’s streets three years ago to demand full democracy for the city.

Now, police plan to charge the nine with taking part in mass demonstrations and inciting others to create “a public nuisance.”

The announcement was made one day after longtime government official Carrie Lam was chosen as Hong Kong’s first female chief executive. She is currently the city’s deputy chief executive.

The 59-year-old Lam won a special election on Sunday. She received 777 votes from Hong Kong’s 1,200-member electoral committee. The committee is filled with supporters of the government in Beijing.

After her election, Carrie Lam talked about Hong Kong. She promised to protect the city’s “core values,” such as inclusiveness, freedom of speech and clean government. She noted that city residents see these values as very important.

Pro-democracy activists are worried about Lam’s victory. They say she is likely to support pro-China positions. And they are worried about China’s growing involvement in Hong Kong. They fear the former British colony will no longer be governed under the “one country, two systems” plan, which guarantees the city many freedoms.

Some activists are refusing to accept the election results. Legislator Nathan Law was a member of the election committee. But he says he did not mark his ballot.

“The Beijing government has the final say on who is going to be appointed. As long as it is a very closed system, a selection, you should not add legitimacy to the system.”

Pro-democracy activists want the city’s residents – not a committee -- to choose the chief executive. They also do not believe Lam can balance the interests of the public and the demands from China.

Takchi Tam is a democracy activist.

“I do not think she will keep the balance. I think she will betray Hong Kong people.”

Lam’s supporters, such as Ivan Tsim, believe she will ensure the city’s security and economic growth.

“I am more concerned [about] the education and the housing, of course. These are two big issues for Hong Kongnese.”

Lam has promised to spend more than $600 million dollars for education. She also promised to increase the supply of housing.

Political observer Dixon Sing says Lam’s election will always be seen as a sign that China will never lessen its control of the city.

“Politically, as long as [Chinese president] Xi Jinping, the real hardliner, continues to govern China, he will continue to tighten his grip on Hong Kong and stop Hong Kong from democratizing.”

Felix Patrikeeff of the University of Adelaide campus in Hong Kong told VOA that Lam is probably the best leader Hong Kong could expect.

He said, "She’s not only trusted by China but also I think that there would be a grudging respect for her in Hong Kong itself. That’s notwithstanding the fact that she was not genuinely popularly elected there.”

Patrikeeff says the election is a sign that China’s control over the city is growing.

On Monday, China’s state-controlled Global Times newspaper said Lam’s margin of victory “provides an important basis for Hong Kong’s future unity.” The newspaper said the election was open and transparent.

But most experts said it was not a democratic race and most of the city’s democracy activists have rejected the results.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Joyce Huang reported for VOA News from Hong Kong. VOA’s Fern Robinson and Victor Beattie reported from Washington. John Smith adapted their reports for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

nuisance – n. a person, thing, or situation that is annoying or that causes trouble or problems (usually singular)

core – adj. most important or most basic

legitimate – adj. allowed according to rules or laws; credible

resident – n. someone who lives in a particular place

hardliner – n. someone who holds strongly to a policy

grip – n. power or control

grudging – adj. said, done or given in an unwilling or doubtful way

genuine – adj. actual, real or true

margin – n. a measurement of difference

transparent – adj. honest and open; not secretive